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Last Updated: Monday, 2 June, 2003, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Don Mosey
By Peter Baxter
Producer, Test Match Special

Don Mosey, second left, with the team
Don Mosey (second left) in his heyday with the team
Don Mosey frequently styled himself the "Cock o' the North" - a seemingly apt title during his 20 years as BBC Radio Outside Broadcasts producer in the North of England.

During that time he was also a broadcaster and in 1974 joined the Test Match Special team, which he had previously produced for, as a commentator.

He had long been christened "the Alderman" by the late Brian Johnston who, while being produced by Mosey in a quiz recording in Lancaster Town Hall, felt the trappings of the Mayor's parlour seemed to suit him.

Mosey relished the nickname - he named his second autobiographical book The Alderman's Tale.

Educated at the grammar school in his native Keighley, he developed a love of cricket, rugby and the English language.

He became a trainee journalist at the age of 16 on the Craven Herald and Pioneer, returning there after wartime service in the RAF.

No London producer would have ventured to an outside broadcast without Mosey's blessing
Peter Baxter on Mosey

There was no sports reporting in his early days in local newspapers, but they brought him into contact with the BBC.

After writing for the Midlands News programmes, he was encouraged to provide voiced reports.

The Daily Express and Daily Mail followed, where he forged some lifelong friendships in the company of the very successful Yorkshire team.

His first sports broadcast, though, was ironically on football, which he always professed to loathe.

A not uncharacteristic disagreement on a point of principle with the Mail led to his resignation in 1964, coinciding with the good fortune of a vacancy as a radio sports producer in Manchester.


He continued his broadcasting and became a thorough organiser of outside broadcasts, as well as originating his own sports programmes.

No London producer would have ventured to an outside broadcast without Mosey's blessing, but they knew if he was running it, every detail would be attended to.

His translation to TMS commentator - frustratingly late for his taste - came in 1974, appropriately at Headingley, but as he took the microphone for the first time a bomb alert brought a suspension in play.

It was a standing joke in the commentary box that his arrival on the air would coincide with a drinks interval, an injury to a player, a break for bad light or a drought of run-scoring.

Behind a deliberately stern exterior, he was also prone to occasional fits of usually Johnston-inspired giggles, finding, not uniquely, the great man's laugh irresistibly infectious.

Mosey was disappointed not to be appointed the BBC's Cricket Correspondent in succession to Brian Johnston, who retired from the staff in 1972.

However, in 1977 he was sent to Pakistan and also to his beloved New Zealand to cover the England cricket tour.

The tour provided a riot, testing communications problems and cricket politics against the background of the Packer revolution.

He was a man who made firm friendships and corresponded copiously with his many acquaintances round the world
Peter Baxter

This was the first of four England cricket tours he undertook for the BBC, revisiting New Zealand and Pakistan and also touring the West Indies and India.

His skills as a raconteur were richly fuelled by these touring experiences.

To his huge disappointment, he was never to cover an Ashes series in Australia.

He retired from the BBC staff in 1984 and continued as a commentator with Test Match Special, demonstrating his genius as an essayist when he turned his hand to the close of play summaries.

These were accomplished and unscripted, beyond the occasional note to act as a prompt, but were no less perfectly crafted in his mind.

He was in much demand as the 'ghost writer' of several cricketers' autobiographies, always seeming to have another book in production at any time.

And he was a man who made firm friendships and corresponded copiously with his many acquaintances round the world.

Mosey could be equally resolute about his dislikes and unforgiving to any he perceived to have done him a disservice.

In the commentary team he provided a different voice with a different view and was none the less welcome for that.

Links to more Legends stories


Don Mosey in 1979
Ian Botham takes his 100th wicket

Don Mosey in 1981
Ian Botham hits two sixes off Dennis Lillee at Old Trafford

Voices of the past

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